Hillenmeyer “hated coming in to work” because of Kruetz

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Long before Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito joined the NFL, there were uncomfortable locker room rituals.

And to hear former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer tell it, it was no more comfortable for him in Chicago than it was for Martin in Miami.

Hillenmeyer told WSCR 670 that in 2004, the year he filled in for an injured Brian Urlacher, he “hated coming into work” because of the treatment he got from veteran center Olin Kreutz.

“Because he was a jerk,” Hillenmeyer explained. “He was riding me because I was the third-year guy, or second-year guy, trying to fill in for a superstar. So I can relate in a sense that, you’re going to have people in your workplace that you don’t necessarily like. . . .

“Olin led in a certain way. I would go to the grave acknowledging that he thought that everything he was always doing was in the best interest of the team. I don’t want that to come across like I’m admonishing him or saying that he was a bad leader. Because he was a great leader, but at the same time, when you have a room full of alpha males who were all the best player on their high school teams and one of the best players on their college team, to get everyone to buy in and fall into line, you need people that take leadership roles in an aggressive way like that.”

Hillenmeyer didn’t offer specifics, but said that management has a vested interest in having the locker room under control, and was willing to turn a blind eye to certain things.

“If you’re [former Bears General Manager] Jerry Angelo or you’re [former Bears coach] Lovie Smith, as much as you might not approve of  some of the methods, you like the results,” Hillenmeyer said. “People were going to come to OTAs and they weren’t going to have loose lips with the media, they weren’t going to do a lot of things to damage the locker room – not because they didn’t want to, but because they were scared of Olin.

“You need guys like that in the locker room, and coaches tend to just let it happen unless there’s something egregious going on that’s right under their nose.”

While 31 other teams had a chance to stand up yesterday and tell reporters how Miami’s problems wouldn’t happen in their place, Hillenmeyer’s story, and rationale, is probably far more common than anyone would want to admit.

7 responses to “Hillenmeyer “hated coming in to work” because of Kruetz

  1. It’s interesting to think about whether some of these issues specifically occur in locker rooms with poor QB leadership. Can anyone see Manning, Brady, or Brees acting this way? I can’t. Instead, you have a locker room who necessarily has to be led by people who are physically aggressive by profession. This would seem to be the logical conclusion of not having a QB at the head of your team for leadership.

  2. Not surprising at all considering Olin once broke a teammate’s jaw at shooting range during a bye week.

  3. Wow. I don’t believe Philbin knew exactly what was going on. I don’t think he or the coaching stuff encouraged Incognito to say certain things to him in texts or voicemails. But they let a rapid dog off the leash and turned around and only turned back around after the job was finished. All coaches and players care about is winning on Sunday. That’s it. Whatever they can do to get there, by hook or crook, is on the table. Incognito is not a good guy.

    And Philbin and his guys had to have know that, considering Iocognito’s checkered past. Maybe they thought he can be controlled, that they can manage him, because his talent outweighs his drawbacks. He was a leader on the field and everything that happens in the locker room or off the field is inconsequential to the goal of winning, as long as the players are taking care of it.

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